A small act is worth a thousand Facebook Likes

Friday, 9 October, 2015

“A small act is worth a thousand Facebook Likes.”

Note: This quote is a tiny modification of Ai Weiwei ‘s famous quote “A small act is worth a million thoughts” in my long list of quotes I love. With the proliferation of social media, sometimes people feel they have “done” something by a “like” but a small act (however small) means something concrete.

P.S. Today, as I re-watch the full video of Mohamed Fahmy and his lawyer Amal Clooney talk to the Frontline Club, I sent in my tiny contribution (just C$10, less than a movie ticket) to help Fahmy Foundation for a Free Press‘s effort in advocating for reporters and photographers unjustly imprisoned worldwide.

Again quoting Ai Wei Wei, “A small act is worth a million thoughts.” Don’t just “think” or “Facebook Like“, do something. No matter how small. In my case here, I haven’t even sacrifice enough to buy one movie ticket. Of course, as you will hear from Mohamed, social media attention helps his case too, so I am not going to argue against observable positive effects so I lowered my original “million Facebook Likes” to “thousand Facebook Likes” in order to hedge my bet a little. :)

Mohamed Fahmy and his lawyer Amal Clooney talk to the Frontline Club (streamed live on 2015, Oct 7th)

Apr 12, 2016 Update: For the record, seems like the foundation hasn’t setup a PayPal account so my tiny contribution was returned. At the end of the day, the small action was what was counted. I still maintain, do what we can, regardless of how small it may seem.

Video interview with Oscar Shortlisted doc director Alison Klayman, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Thursday, 6 December, 2012

Alison Never Sorry interview - Youtube thumbnail compositeAi Weiwei carrying an Oscar on Facebook

The insightful, fun, and sometimes deadly serious documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (艾未未:道歉你妹; title in Taiwan 艾未未:草泥馬) has been Oscar shortlisted from 126 films down to 15, coming out ahead of films like “The Central Park Five” by the legendary Ken Burns et al, and “Head Games” by Steve James (director of the amazing Hoop Dreams).

Alison Klayman, director of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, was very nice and cool to do her first post-Oscar-shortlist video interview with me on the day after she came back from a Bangkok film festival trip. Here is my video interview with Alison.

Video interview with Oscar Shortlisted Alison Klayman, director of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry trailer (Official selection Sundance 2012 Film Festival)

I just noticed on the back wall in the following film still, the pictures are the concept drawings that lead to the Remembering (2009), an installation for the Façade of the House of German Art.

Ai Weiwei Never Sorry - Film Still

Golden Ai Weiwei Oscar

Alison and I talked about the middle finger salute in the interview. To me, it is a show of defiance to the powerful, be it the one-party ruled Chinese government or any other governments or powerful institutions.

Weiwei middle-finger art Read the rest of this entry »

TED & TEDx talk videos – My baker’s dozen of favourite videos

Saturday, 24 November, 2012

Inspired by all the TEDxHongKong chatters I had last night with some attendees, I’ve finally done my version of top nth TED videos that inspired me. So here is my baker’s dozen (12+1) of TED and TEDx talk videos that I love and enjoy over the years. Some are popular and some are not.

May be we share a few common ones and we can chat about them in the comments. And if you see a few new ones that you haven’t watched, thats cool too and we can chat in the comments. And may be most important of all, please do share some of your fav! I love to check them out and hear why you love them!

In no particular order, the following are my baker’s dozen (12+1) tweets of my favourite TED & TEDx videos (with links added):

#1 tweet) In no specific order: #TED Malcolm Gladwell, UT alum & best selling author’s Choice, happiness & spaghetti sauce is great

#2 tweet) #TED Malcolm Gladwell‘s “The strange tale of the Norden bombsight” talk is better but unloved because of the harsh message

#3 tweet) A great #TEDxCaltech talk on Richard Feynman by Leonard Susskind. If u never heard of Nobel Prize winning funny man physicist Feynman, try this, you may start to love him.

#4 tweet) #TED Susan Cain is so cool & insightful. Here “The power of introverts” is a must watch for fellow introverts (me INTJ) Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Chinese government can always win in court? The “tax case” of Ai Weiwei @aiww 艾未未

Wednesday, 20 June, 2012

Q: Why the Chinese government can always win in court?

A: The Chinese government can always lock up or magically make your lawyer “unreachable”. In addition, they can send police to block you from attending your own court hearing. And as if these are not enough, the judges will always follow the wishes of the central government to ensure prompt victory by the governments.

Guardian June 20, 2012, “Ai Weiwei barred from court hearing by Chinese police – Dissident artist says police warned him to stay away from court hearing on company’s lawsuit against Beijing tax authorities

CNN June 20, 2012, “China dissident Ai Weiwei harassed by police, he says

Guardian June 20, 2012, “Ai Weiwei’s lawyer missing as artist is warned away from tax hearing – Chinese dissident being told not to attend court as it considers his challenge to a fine for alleged unpaid taxes

Bloomberg June 19, 2012, “Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Says Police Block Him From Court

Reuters, June 20, 2012 “Chinese police warn Ai Weiwei to avoid tax hearing


Update: I am thrilled that Ai Weiwei retweeted this post and I am ready to see Chinese spambots starting to flood my Twitter stream now!  At the same time, I asked & replied with a serious and fundamental questions/concerns for foreigners and foreign businesses “@aiww Sad u can’t attend your tax case in court + they “disappear” your lawyer. How can foreigners or int. businesses trust Chinese courts?

China’s Ai Weiwei 4 Self-Surveillance Cameras ordered to shutdown, Beijing Gov’s 15 Surveillance Cameras still running

Friday, 6 April, 2012

WeiWeiCam - bedroom pix

Chinese original (see below for English translation): “艺术家艾未未在其位于北京草场地258号的办公室、卧室、院子分别安装了4个摄像头,通过weiweicam.com 网站直播日常生活。2012年4月2日19点开始,至4月4日18:09分被迫关闭,进行了47小时9分钟,点击520万次,下载100GB。”

English translation: “Chinese artist Ai Weiwei installed four webcams in his office, bedroom, and yard at his Beijing studio (258 Fake) live-streaming his daily life on http://weiweicam.com The live-streaming started on 19:00 April 2nd, 2012 (one year anniversary of his illegal “disappearance” by Chinese government). The cameras were forced to shutdown on 18:09 on April 4th. The broadcast lasted 47 hours 9 minutes, 5.2 million visits, 100GB data downloaded.
The following are 73 screen captures of the live broadcast.”

When the Beijing Chinese government has 15 video cameras set outside of Ai Weiwei‘s studio/home recording all the comings and goings of Ai and his guests, it is a bit absurd that the four self-surveillance cameras installed by Ai inside his studio/home were ordered to be shutdown. I very much agree with Twitter user’s sentiment.

“It’s fine for them to set up cameras to look at you, but it’s not fine for you to set up cameras to help them look at you,” one Twitter user wrote in Chinese after the cameras went down. “Absurd in the extreme.”” [HT WSJ]

CNN has a video interview with Ai. BBC has an audio interview with Ai. Also see reports from WSJ, Guardian, France 24NYTLA Times, MSNBC.

Only in an absurd world you will see any government afraid of its people singing its national anthem! Well, here I’ve set pictures from Ai Weiwei’s 4 Self-Surveillance footage to he People’s Republic of China‘s national anthem “March of the Volunteers 义勇军进行曲“. Feel free to read the attached lyrics.

Ai Weiwei Self-Surveillance-HD set to March of the Volunteers (PRC national anthem)

*** English Translation of “March of the Volunteers” via Wikipedia:
Arise! All those who don’t want to be slaves!
Let our flesh and blood forge our new Great Wall!
As the Chinese people have arrived at their most perilous time.
Every person is forced to expel his very last cry.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Our million hearts beating as one,
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
March on! March on! On!

*** Chinese Simplified original

Best Defence Against the 50 Cent Army if you support @aiww 帮艾未未时,如何应付五毛党

Wednesday, 8 February, 2012

What is 50 Cent Army (五毛党)? According to Wikipedia50 Cent Army/Party is a term for (emphasis added with minor edit),

Internet commentators (网络评论员)) hired by the government of the People’s Republic of China (both local and central) or the Communist Party to post comments favorable towards party policies in an attempt to shape and sway public opinion on various Internet message boards.

How did I get myself tangled with the 50 Cent Army (五毛党)? Well, I’ve written about Ai Weiwei (艾未未 @aiww) once in a while since I think he is a great Chinese artist/political activist. Recently, when I tweeted something about Weiwei that got retweeted by @aiww, I would get Twitter mentioned by one of the 50 Cent Army (in this case Twitter user 20uI30a)!

OK, the best defence against the 50 Cent Army (五毛党) is to ignore them. Yes, ignore them! Don’t waste your energy, just ignore them!

In my case, so far I’ve taken one step further to confirm the offending Twitter accounts actually have the telltale signs of 50 Cent Army and I then will block the user and report them for spam. Of course, my act of blocking and reporting the accounts for spam is a complete waste of time! Why? Because these type spam Twitter accounts are disposable accounts! They are automatically created. Once these accounts did their job of wasting your time/energy to read and reply, etc the posters had already moved on to a brand new spam account. The spammers are “smart” and fully expected these accounts to be suspended. So after posting a few tweets (127), they will stop using an account and move on.

So save yourself the time, just ignore the 50 Cent Army. I’ve wasted my time to write this post so that you don’t have to waste your time. :)

P.S. Part of me is sad for people in the 50 Cent Army but then thinking they get 50 cents per post, it makes me laugh at the topsy turvy world of China.

Middle Fingers Salute to the Absentee Ai Weiwei at Sundance 2012

Sunday, 29 January, 2012

Pictures of Middle Fingers Salute to the Absentee Ai Weiwei as Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry won U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance at Sundance 2012. RT@aiww:指天骂地 RT @denghaoyang:中指森林。@aiww RT @AWWNeverSorry:昨夜 圣丹斯颁奖给@aliklay @AWWNeverSorry @aiww现场,表彰他们’道歉你妹’的反抗精神

For the record, two film reviews from industry respected sources. Excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter review (emphasis added),

“The filming is much of the point: Like Warhol 2.0, Ai documents his surroundings obsessively and views Twitter as a necessity. Through a constant online presence, he has become “Teacher Ai” to a legion of followers, and some of his most important art/politics hybrid projects — like one intent on uncovering facts about the Sichuan earthquake that the government wants buried — rely on their participation. As we spend time with him in his studios and home, Ai seems authentically driven by a need for more freedom than China is currently offering.”

Excerpt from Variety review (emphasis added),

“Rather than dwelling too heavily on his museum shows, much of the film expands upon Ai’s key tweets of the past few years. Hence, the incidents that take precedence include the wrenchingly unjust demolition of his Shanghai artist’s studio and his confrontational attempts to seek justice for a police raid that left him with a bleeding head wound — both major events for Klayman to have caught oncamera.

Among Ai’s better-known work is a series of photographs that feature his extended middle finger superimposed over Tiananmen Square and other iconic sites. Whereas many contemporary artists question authority via their work, Ai does not confine his criticism of hegemony to galleries and museums. Instead, he takes the assault directly to the powers that be, which in turn expands the scope of his work to a form of pseudo-performance art, providing Klayman with a handful of lively “happenings” to include in her film, such as Ai’s heated confrontation with the officer who allegedly beat him.

Though the docu provides occasional insights into Ai’s personality, China serves as the more interesting character here, a complex adversary capable of inspiring a range of creative reactions from the artist. By opening with a metaphor about exceptional cat that has learned to open doors, Klayman stresses the one-in-a-billion odds of someone like Ai existing. The film is a good start, but such an important artist deserves a more rigorous portrait.”

As I tweeted, I am very much looking forward to watch Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Alison has captured some very important moments and stories in Ai Weiwei‘s life and it is about time more of us get to know him.

Jan 30, 2012 update: LA Times, “Ai Weiwei documentary gets middle-finger salute at Sundance

Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds Party”

Friday, 27 January, 2012

Here is an excerpt from the insightful New Yorker article “AI WEIWEI AT HOME, IN ABSENTIA” by Evan Osnos,

“Ai’s cell phone rumbled and he answered the call. He smiled. Mary Boone, the gallery owner, was on the line. It was late at night in New York, but she wanted to tell him how his show was going. On the floor of her Chelsea space on West 24th Street, she had Ai’s hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds, three million of them, which had been crafted by ceramic artisans in the pottery town of Jingdezhen. (The show is open until February 4th.) They are part of an ocean of seeds, one hundred million in all, that he originally unveiled in a 2010 installation at the Tate Modern in London. At the Tate, they formed a vast gray swamp, filling the cavernous Turbine Hall, but in New York, after two eventful years, they have taken on a different meaning. They are arranged in a rectangle with severe, angled corners. In the Times, Roberta Smith wrote that the “unruly ocean has been downsized to something more like a reflecting pool. It also suggests a kind of memorial plinth, a monument to the palpable absence of Mr. Ai.”

As is often the case for Ai Weiwei, his work and his life have become hard to differentiate. The seeds have found their way into the tax case. “When the seeds began to show, people started to ask: Can we have some? I responded very casually, ‘Whoever wants some, just give me an address and I’ll send them to you.’ We received about a thousand requests. And, since then, it has become a kind of movement. We’ve sent out several hundred thousand. This is amazing. They call it the ‘Sunflower Seeds Party.’ The party can be read as a party or a Party. And young people love it. They say, ‘The girl at school I loved for so long, and I could never really speak to her, I made an earring out of a seed and gave it to her.’ Another one said, he gave it to his parents. One said the seed will be the first gift to my unborn kid. And someone else said, by the year two-thousand-and-something, the seeds will have life coming out of them. They call them seeds of freedom. It’s very interesting that people need something to carry their fantasy.”

Online, the seeds became a proxy for Ai himself. “They talk about seeds and it moved like a wave. They couldn’t talk about me and they couldn’t talk about the government, but when they talked about seeds, nobody could do anything about it, because they aren’t talking about anything—just sunflower seeds!””

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – Press from Sundance and other film festivals

Monday, 23 January, 2012

* LA Times (great review), “Sundance 2012: Ai Weiwei screening becomes a political event

“In one of the film’s numerous scenes of defiance, Ai describes his motivation for his art and his statements. “If you don’t publicize it, it’s like it never happened,” he said.”

*  Chicago Tribune, “Another side of Ai Weiwei shown in Sundance film

* New York Times, Alison Klayman (with video), “Ai Weiwei: The Evolution of a Dissident

* Reuters, “Another side of Ai Weiwei shown in Sundance film

* WSJ, “Ten Hot Sundance Documentaries to Watch

* Salt Lake Tribune, “Sundance review: “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Jan 29, 2012 update: THR, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry: Sundance Film Review

Variety review, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Wired.com, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry Documents Artist’s Social Media Dissent

Feb 14, 2012 update: The Guardian, “Berlin 2012: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – review


Here is an Ai Weiwei quote I love,

“Q: Do you ever examine  yourself to say, why is that you are so fearless compared to other people?
Ai WeiWei Answer: I was so fearful, that’s not fearless. I am more fearful than other people, may be, then I act more brave because I know the danger is really there. If you don’t act, the dangers become stronger.” – Ai WeiWeiin PBS Frontline video “Who is afraid of Ai Weiwei?” (time code: ~17:25)

Ai Weiwei: Artist & Dissident – Time Person of the Year Runner-Up

Sunday, 18 December, 2011

TIME, Ai Weiwei: The Dissident – Time Person of the Year Runner-Up

“For 81 days last spring and summer, Ai Weiwei was China’s most famous missing person. Detained in Beijing while attempting to catch a flight to Hong Kong on April 3, Ai, an artistic consultant for the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium, was held almost entirely incommunicado and interrogated some 50 times while friends and supporters around the world petitioned for his release. On Nov. 1, Ai, who says the case against him is politically motivated, was hit with a $2.4 million bill for back taxes and penalties. Two weeks later, he paid a $1.3 million bond with loans from Chinese supporters who contributed online and in person and even tossed cash over the walls of his studio in northeast Beijing.

The son of a revolutionary poet, Ai, 54, has grown more outspoken in recent years, expressing his anger at abuses of power and organizing online campaigns, including a volunteer investigation into the deaths of children in schools that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. His detention came amid a broad crackdown on activists by the Chinese government meant to stamp out a call for Arab Spring–inspired pro-democracy protests as well as continuing unrest in the Tibetan regions, where 12 people have set themselves on fire since March to protest Chinese policies.

Ai, who speaks excellent if not quite flawless English, sat down on Dec. 12 with TIME’s Hannah Beech and Austin Ramzy — and a calico cat, one of nearly two dozen cats and dogs at his studio — to discuss his detention, the poetry of Twitter and whether China is immune to the global forces of protest and revolution. […]

If you had a chance to go overseas, would you?

I have to evaluate, Is it better to stay in a jail here or go abroad? If you go, you really have to say goodbye.

You feel you wouldn’t be allowed back?

Not only that. I’m afraid I would lose the sensitivity to this reality. There are so many things you can do in life, and of course, activist isn’t my top choice. I think I would lose touch with here, and I certainly feel I owe a lot of people. If I can make a good effort, I would continue to do that.” Read the rest of this entry »

News re Ai Weiwei and his followers’ mass nudity protest

Friday, 25 November, 2011

* Nov 29, Guardian, “Chinese police question Ai Weiwei’s wife – Lu Qing released after three hours of questioning, according to the artist and activist

* Nov 29, Telegraph, “Chinese police question Ai Weiwei’s wife – The wife of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and dissident, was taken in for almost three hours of questioning by police in Beijing on Tuesday and warned her not to leave the city.

* Nov 26, Guardian, “Ai Weiwei: ‘Every day I think, this will be the day I get taken in again…’The more he is harassed by his government, the more Ai Weiwei becomes a symbol of activism in China. But how much longer can he continue to speak out?

* Nov 26, Taipei Times, “Ma defends Chinese artist Ai Weiwei

“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for China to respect human rights and defended Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s (艾未未) right to freedom of expression as he attended an exhibition of Ai’s work at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.”

* Nov 25, Seattle PI “Taiwan leader calls for artistic freedom in China

“The distance between Taiwan and China will be determined by their views on human rights protection,” Ma [Taiwan President] said. “When our views get closer, the two sides will move closer.”

* Nov 23, Media Bistro, “Ai Weiwei’s Assistant Investigated for Pornography, Internet Supporters Go Nude (or Nearly) in Show of Solidarity

* Nov 22, MSNBC, “Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei answers reader questions

Q: How did you react to the love shown by your supporters who raised money to help you with your legal issues with the government? Were you at all surprise, and how did those who oppose you respond to this kind of support?

Ai Weiwei: I was deeply impressed, firstly surprised by the reaction of the people who openly support me, who was accused by the state with tax fault. This never happened in a nation like china where the authority is the law. And people really can express their feeling against the accusations. With my unique condition, because I have been working with internet for the past few years, and created a space where the oldest power structure seems much less powerful. So people used the money as a voting ticket to express their feelings against authorities, which was trying to manipulate judicial system, and to punish someone who have different opinions, or even a simple expression which reflects certain kind of freedom. In less than 10 days with restriction that my name can not even be recognized on Chinese internet, we got support over 9 million yuan(about 1.4 million dollars), and that not only came as a surprise to me, but a surprise o the whole society and the authorities as well. That would become a symbolic event which really announced a kind of people’s power from Internet.


Q: I didn’t think you were allowed to talk to the press after being released from prison, what’s changed?

Ai Weiwei: I’m not talking to press. I’m talking to people.


Q: Do you believe that you can beat the tax evasion charges?

Ai Weiwei: In current conditions I don’t think we can change the outcome of tax evasion investigation because we don’t have independent judicial system. We don’t even have independent tax department. Chinese media, tax bureau, and the court, they are all under one party’s control. There’s no miracle about it. But at the same time, we already won the trial outside the trial. People openly discuss it and support me. It’s already a victory. It will also be a reminder to the powers that they should never use justice as a means for revenge, otherwise that would really hurt themselves, and put the nation in a shadow when there’s no trust in justice.

* Nov 22, MSNBC, “The story behind the chat with Ai Weiwei

* Nov 22, WaPo, “Ai Weiwei rallies his followers in protests

* Nov 21, 2011 Guardian, “Ai Weiwei supporters strip off as artist faces ‘porn’ investigation

* Nov 21, Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei’s followers’ mass nudity protest” (uncensored nude photo)

* Nov 21, HuffPost, “Ai Weiwei Supporters Tweet Naked Photos



艾未粉果 Ai Wei Fans’ Nudity – Listen Chinese Government: Nudity is NOT Pornography

I like this one “@yanglicai: 同光同罪”. In rough English translation, “if nudity is breaking the law, I am breaking the same law, sentence me the same way”)

Dissident China artist Ai Weiwei’s supporters sent $1.4 million to fight tax bill in court

Sunday, 13 November, 2011

* AP, Dissident China artist raises $1.4M for tax bill

“Ai received 8.69 million yuan ($1.4 million) from supporters as of Sunday night, the artist said by phone. This is enough for him to put down a guarantee of more than 8 million yuan by Tuesday required by the tax authority to obtain an administrative review of the case.”

* The Voice Of Treason – China’s most famous dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, speaks out about the ordeal of his Detention

“”They follow you around until you have no energy and break down. It’s very successful. It’s a hundred departments, you can’t fight them,” he says. “You should commit suicide before you have to go through this … the tax bureau and the court and the police are the same person with different faces.”

Ai Weiwei Documentary ‘Never Sorry’ Trailer (VIDEO)

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry TEASER

People’s money battles with oppressors (這是對抗強權的人民幣)

Saturday, 12 November, 2011

“這是對抗強權的人民幣” New meaning for Renminbi (People’s money), “People’s money battles with oppressors.”

Two more days to lend money to Ai Weiwei, so far $7,571,713 yuan from 26,723 micro creditors have been raised to protest Chinese government’s attempt to censor artists and internet users.

From Ai Weiwei’s Google+ Account.

艾未未 – 9:13 AM (edited) – Public

支付宝 19322笔 2477717元
建行卡 4559笔 2704123元
paypal 792 笔 290522元
现金 335笔 1385257元
邮局汇款1715笔 714094元


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets 21,000+ microloans totalling 5.9m yuan so far to pay his 15m yuan tax bill

Monday, 7 November, 2011

For the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, it is not about the money, it is a chance to let the Chinese public to voice their support of him and disapproval of Chinese government unjust accusation/judgement. Read along to find out what these two donations signify:

512 yuan, about $80

89.64 yuan, or about $14

Washington Post, “Ai Weiwei fans raise funds to pay his massive tax bill

“In a strong affront to the Chinese government’s attempt to censor artists and internet users, fans of the artist Ai Weiwei have raised more than $830,000 in three days through social media to help the artist fight a $2.4 million tax bill from the state.”

BBC English, “Ai Weiwei China tax bill paid by supporters” (with English interview)

“By Monday, there had been donations totalling more than 5m yuan ($790,000; £490,000) to pay off the $2.4m in taxes and fines the authorities say he owes.

Many people believe he was served the bill because of his outspoken criticism of the government rather than because he had evaded taxes. Read the rest of this entry »

“Most powerful artist” in the world Ai Weiwei (艾未未) doesn’t feel powerful

Thursday, 13 October, 2011

Have a listen to BBC radio interview of “most powerful artist” in the world, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (+艾未未). Ai, I don’t feel powerful at all. I am still under detention. (also see reports in UK Reuters, Telegraph)

Other recent insightful articles and video:
1) NYTimes Oct 13, Dissident Creates by Remote Control
2) Ai Weiwei’s wife urges China to drop plan on detentions
3) PBNS Frontline doc (free online): Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei?

Virtual Prisoner’s Life in Freedom City, China

Monday, 27 June, 2011

From CNN, “Chinese activist Hu promises parents he will be ‘careful’ in future

“In a phone call to CNN affiliate iCable News in Hong Kong on Sunday, Hu [Jia] said his parents had asked him to not clash with the system.

“Once I saw my family, I understood how much I owe them, especially my parents, my wife and my kid. I realize I’ve done nothing for them. There is a Chinese saying that ‘patriotism and filial piety don’t go hand in hand,'” he said in the phone call.

“They told me to be a good citizen and don’t clash with the system. This system is very brutal. It uses government’s power to violate people’s dignity. I can only tell my parents, I will be careful.”

[…] “Hu Jia told me that he won’t change, and police told him they may put him under house arrest in that case,” she said. “I’m prepared for it.”

“As long as there’s no democracy or the rule of law in China, our situation won’t change at all.”

Last year’s Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, also a rights activist, was convicted of the same crime as Hu. Liu is still serving an 11-year jail term.”

Ai Weiwei’s “Good Attitude” – Disappeared Apr 3rd, Released June 22 into Soft Detention (?)

Wednesday, 22 June, 2011

2:28pm update: From Guardian,

“”I’m fine. I’m out,” the 54-year-old artist told the Guardian in a telephone call shortly after his release on bail. “I’m back with my family. I’m very happy.

[…] Speaking from his home in north Beijing, the usually outspoken artist said he could not comment any further, adding: “I’m on bail. Please understand.”

Ai’s sister Gao Ge said: “I’m very, very happy … we thank everyone, including our media friends, for all their help and support so far.”

His mother, Gao Ying, told NPR that the family “won’t sleep tonight”.

[…] Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific deputy director, said: “Ai Weiwei must now be granted his full liberty, and not be held in illegal house arrest as has been the pattern with so many others recently released from arbitrary detention.

She also called for the immediate release of his four associates – Wen Tao, one of his friends, Zhang Jinsong, his driver and cousin, Hu Mingfen, an accountant, and Liu Zhenggang, a designer – who went missing shortly after him. Wen’s girlfriend Shi Jing, who had volunteered at Ai’s studio, said: “For both [Ai’s] friends and family, it is positive news.

“As for Wen Tao, his family hasn’t got any information so far … I still feel anxious, but since Ai is going to be bailed, there will probably be information about the others. They got into this because of Ai’s case, so there should also be news about them.””


Weiwei sent a message to the police back in China,

Some photos, at the right moment, completely change the history. - part 1

According China’s state-controlled Xinhua news agency report (emphasis added), Ai Weiwei is released on bail because of his “good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from“. In case they delete the news, here is the report in full, for the record.

Ai Weiwei released on bail
English.news.cn 2011-06-22 22:15:25
BEIJING, June 22 (Xinhua) — The Beijing police department said Wednesday that Ai Weiwei has been released on bail because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from.

The decision comes also in consideration of the fact that Ai has repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded, police said.

The Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., a company Ai controlled, was found to have evaded a huge amount of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents, police said.”

According to AFP,

“[Ai Weiwei] has not come back yet. The police haven’t told us he has been released. Journalists called us and told us about the Xinhua report,” Ai’s sister Gao Ge told AFP late Wednesday.

Ai’s mobile was switched off. His wife and lawyer could not be immediately reached.

From Guardian (emphasis added),

“Ai’s younger brother Ai Dan told the Guardian he had no information on his brother. The artist’s wife and mother could not be reached immediately and Ai’s phone remained switched off.

Earlier in the day, after a rumour that he might be released circulated on websites, his family said police had given them no information on Ai’s case.

The article gave no details of what has happened to several friends and colleagues of Ai, who went missing shortly after him.

Hung Huang, Beijing publisher and blogger, made this observation about Weiwei in PBS short documentary “Who’s afraid of Ai Weiwei?“,

“Most of the other Chinese artists I know have gone on to having very nice houses, fancy cars, and I don’t think they would do anything to damage their lifestyle. Weiwei would put his life on the line for something that he believes in.Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei held incommunicado for 43 days, allowed to see wife for 20 minutes – Ai in ‘good physical health but mentally conflicted’

Monday, 16 May, 2011

The following are some news of Chinees artist Ai Weiwei after he was held incommunicado for 43 days where his family and lawyer have no idea of his whereabout.

To give you some context about “criminal justice in China”, I took time to first post the entries “Criminal Justice In China: An Empirical Inquiry” (an entry about a research study 16 years in the making) and a BBC Chinese report & more “獨立調查:中國沒有司法公正” (machine translated to “Independent Study: There is no justice in China”).

* AP, “Wife of detained Chinese artist finds him tense

“Red-eyed and tense, the usually uninhibited and irreverent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei seemed a different man in custody as he sat for what his wife says was a brief, monitored meeting — his first contact with the outside world in 43 days.

Authorities have still not detailed why the avant-garde artist and government critic was detained April 3 and held incommunicado, in a case that has prompted an outcry in the art world and among U.S. and EU officials, who have called it a sign of China’s deteriorating human rights.

The burly, bearded 53-year-old appeared conflicted and his eyes were puffy when his wife Lu Qing was allowed to visit him Sunday, though he seemed healthy, Lu told The Associated Press.

“He has changed. His mood and demeanor are so different from the simple and spontaneous Ai Weiwei I know,” Lu said Monday. “It was obvious that without freedom to express himself he was not behaving naturally even with me.”

Lu said she sat face to face with her husband during the meeting in a room at an unknown location and that they were watched by someone “who seemed to be in charge of Ai,” and another who took notes. Ai repeatedly assured her he was physically OK: “My health is good. I am fine, don’t worry.””

* UK Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei limbo shines a light into the shadows of China’s police state

* UK Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei allowed to see family – The controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been granted his first family visit 43 days, appearing stressed but otherwise in good health, his wife has said.

* UK Guardian, “Ai Weiwei in ‘good physical health but mentally conflicted’

* For those that are not too familiar of Ai’s work, BBC has a good video “Celebrating the artwork of Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei documentary maker appears on “The Colbert Report” TONIGHT

Monday, 16 May, 2011

Alison Klayman, documentary filmmaker of “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorryappears on The Colbert Report TONIGHT (May 16th, 2011)! Watch it.

THR has a good report of Alison’s appearance, “Ai Weiwei Documentary Maker to Appear on ‘The Colbert Report’“.

“Citing the artist’s wife, the Associated Press reported Monday that Ai appeared healthy but tense during his first meeting with family since he was detained more than a month ago.

Ai’s wife Lu Qing told the AP she was allowed to meet with her husband at an unknown location for around 20 minutes Sunday afternoon and that he seemed conflicted and upset, although insisted he was healthy and his physical needs were being met.”

Interesting Articles: Microsoft buys Skype, Ai Weiwei, Internet’s power usage, Larry Page’s Google 3.0

Tuesday, 10 May, 2011

* Techcrunch, “Done Deal! Big Deal. Smart Deal? Microsoft Buys Skype For $8.5 Billion In Cash

* Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei: they silence him, but his voice grows louder and louder

* Guardian, “‘It feels rotten putting the show on in Ai Weiwei’s absence’ – While Ai Weiwei remains interned by the Chinese authorities, Nicholas Logsdail, director of the Lisson Gallery, talks about a forthcoming exhibition of the artist’s work and his growing influence on the global stage

* AFP, “Hong Kong arrests pair over Ai Weiwei graffiti

* CNN Money, “The Internet: One big power suck

* BusinessWeek, “Larry Page’s Google 3.0 – The company co-founder and his star deputies are trying to root out bureaucracy and rediscover the nimble moves of youth”

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